Posts Tagged ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Marge


Quote of the Day

“No knife games on the kitchen table!” – Marge Simpson
“I didn’t hit your precious table!” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

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“Otto, a red traffic light means what?” – Bart Simpson
“Whoa, no time for brain teasers!” – Otto


Reading Digest: Bands! Edition

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“You got Poison to play at our wedding?” – Becky
“We’re Cyanide, a loving tribute to Poison.” – Cyanide Singer
“We need a ride home!” – Cyanide Drummer

This week we might have a link of the month instead of a link of the week.  From Australia comes a list of bands with names from the show from all over the globe.  I’ve linked maybe three or four of them on here, and I had no idea just how many there really were.  It needs to be seen to be believed, and it’s hard to conceive of another show offering up this many possibilities.  Just astounding.  In addition to that, we’ve got more bootleg Bart stuff, some speculation on the demise of the DVDs, several pieces of fan art, love for Lisa, new merchandise, and more.


This Is What A Festival Filled With Bands Named After ‘The Simpsons’ Would Look & Sound Like – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this list of real bands with Simpsons names.  They band play good.

The 13 Best Bootleg Barts – An excellent selection of new bootleg Bart images from that show in LA last week.

Bart Vs Video Game Trivia: How Well Do You Know Simpsons Games? – There’s even a quiz.

The Simpsons DVD news: Are the sales really that bad? No, they aren’t – The show was selling relatively well, but wasn’t doing gangbusters anymore if this is true:

Yes, those numbers are approximately half of the sales of season 16, but the numbers are still excellent given the market today. I think there’s more to this story than “sales numbers are poor.” Maybe their sales expectations are too high and they would rather make no money off DVD sales than less money.

What the article doesn’t mention is that FOX might not want to keep doing DVDs if they’re also selling the show through streaming and FXX.  I don’t know the full thinking (and this is FOX we’re talking about, thinking might not have been involved at all), but I don’t think it’s entirely coincidental that they canned the DVDs after they finally got their streaming product off the ground.  Thanks to @mstcambot on Twitter.

Eye On Springfield with Shayne Mathis – Fantastic:

My first exposure to vegetarianism was from the episode Lisa The Vegetarian. Has the show ever exposed you to an idea that impacted your life? (Lisa become veg, Barney quitting drinking, etc.)
I wish I had a good story for this question but the extent of The Simpsons’ effect on my life was that I prank called my local grocery store a few times and got them to page Amanda Hugnkiss, I.P. Freely, etc over the PA system.

Eye On Springfield with Chuck BB – My local station had Saturday episodes, except when they had baseball.  Stupid baseball:

The show was in its prime when I was in middle school, I think just entering into syndication – So I would catch The Simpsons airing every night at that point, memorizing jokes and lines and talking to the other kids about the replayed episode the next day. Every God Damn Day…except Saturday. Stupid Saturday.

The Last Word … Homer’s odyssey – I don’t know enough about British politics to fully understand this, but comparing Labour’s leadership election to “Lisa the Vegetarian” is pretty brilliant all by itself.  Thanks to reader David S. for sending this in!

‘The Simpsons’ predicted President Trump way back in 2000 – It’s always fun to watch things percolate up from the bottom of the internet to the top.  As soon as Trump declared, Simpsons geeks mentioned it, then it faded, then someone puts it on Reddit and it rises again, then it fades one more time, and then it makes it to the Washington Post.

The Singing Dorkette – I’m not saying I would trade in my family or anything, but that’s pretty awesome:

If there is one cartoon character that I have related to throughout my childhood, adolescence and feeble attempt at the starting blocks of adulthood, it is Lisa Simpson. Lisa relied heavily on self validation via grades and school success, had her social anxieties, often seemed to feel everything acutely with her sensitive soul, and had strong principles that meant she was faced with many ethical dilemmas. I feel that our outlooks on life are similar.

Plus, when I told my family that I was to stop eating meat, they, too, started a conga line around the kitchen and chanted in sing-song voices, “you don’t win friends with salad”.

Best of luck with the new blog!

Cowabunga – Some Bartkira panels.

Sketch-a-day 7.28 – An agreeably distressed looking Homer drawing.

Superhero – Fallout Milhouse to the rescue!

9 Songs You Didn’t Know Carole King Wrote – Apparently including Lisa’s Jazzman. 

Beaming For Bunnies: Stuff I got in the mail – Our old friend Galileo both sends and receives Simpsons swag.

Dear Life, | letters from milhouse – Yep:

I am milhouse.
Perpetually waiting for my Lisa.

My mom thinks I’m cool.

clearly marge had an affair – Heh.

TV Pick of the Day – Tuesday 28 July – Heh:

What is it: The Simpsons ‘King-Size Homer

Watch it for: The muumuu, the ass pay-off at the end.

10 Most Emotionally Packed Comedy Episodes – “Mother Simpson” makes the list along with, naturally, the dead dog episode of Futurama.

Character Options launches new The Simpsons toy collection – A breathing person actually said this:

With such a huge global reach we are confident that this will be a highly successful new offering within the Character portfolio.

More “collectibles”, on the way.

I Never Caught That: The Simpsons Eddie and Lou in background out of uniform – Nice catch.  Though, Wiggum did let all the criminals out for that game.

Hazel Likes: Sprinkle D’oh-Nuts Dress – More high fashion Simpsons clothing, this time a pretty pink dress.

1998 20th Century Homer Simpson Alarm Clock – Here’s a blast from the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval past, an alarm clock where Homer’s eyes aren’t even pointed in the same direction.


GIANT Homer Simpson Santa Claus 8′ Airblown Inflatable Gemmy Light Up – It’s less than five months until Christmas.  Start now.

Body Shapes, a Handy Guide – Heh.  Speaking personally, I’ve always been attracted to Bart women.


Quote of the Day


“Lisa, it’s time you learn the truth about men.” – Patty Bouvier
“They’re pigs?” – Lisa Simpson
“The bitterness is strong in this one.” – Patty Bouvier


Quote of the Day

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge3

“Oh, Mom, you’re not supposed to throw rice anymore.  Birds eat it, their stomachs swell, and they explode.” – Lisa Simpson
“Why am I just learning this now?” – Bart Simpson


Compare & Contrast: Suspense Movie Take-Offs

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“This can’t be what it looks like.  There’s got to be some other explanation.” – Bart Simpson
“I wish there was some other explanation for this, but there isn’t.  I’m a murderer, I’m a murderer!” – Ned Flanders
“Then that’s not the real Ned Flanders.” – Bart Simpson
“I’m a mur-diddly-urd-ler!” – Ned Flanders
“If that’s not Flanders, he’s done his homework.” – Bart Simpson

The Simpsons had a long and proud tradition of using classic movies or plot ideas as the basis of an episode.  Being The Simpsons, when they aped something, they didn’t just follow it, they used it as an ingredient in something larger and more varied.  The examples of this are too numerous to list comprehensively, but think about the way “Like Father, Like Clown” took some of its major elements from The Jazz Singer, or the way “Rosebud” used the central mystery of Citizen Kane for a story about a teddy bear, or the way “You Only Move Twice” followed the general James Bond template but from a very different perspective.  None of these are straight parodies, instead the source material functions mainly in the background to give the story a coherent structure and a satirical theme (in addition to plenty of material for references and gags).

Season 6’s “Bart of Darkness” is a stellar example of that kind of episode.  Its main story is about Bart going slightly stir crazy after being shut out of the usual summer fun by a broken leg, which is basically the same plot as the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window.  But that’s only a part of what’s going on in the episode.

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Grace, come here, there’s a sinister looking kid who’s making fun of our movie.

Rear Window is a movie that relies on suspense, doubt and belief to create a lot of tension.  Sensibly, The Simpsons dropped those parts and only really used the main plot device, building the rest of the episode around that.  (There is, for example, no swimming pool in Rear Window.)  It’s still easily recognizable as a Rear Window send up (even without the two Jimmy Stewart appearances), but the menacing tone of the movie is completely absent for the simple reason that it wouldn’t work at all in a comedy show.  The episode certainly plays with the idea that Flanders murdered his wife, but as Bart says, “This is Flanders we’re talking about”.  There are jokes and gags aplenty (Schuman Farms Head of Lettuce, mur-diddly-urd-ler) to make sure that things never become dire or dangerous because, c’mon, it’s Flanders.

Compare that light and effective use of source material to the slow footed, heavy handed, and tone deaf “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”.  There the basic plot is a take off on those (typically bad) movies where a manipulative stranger moves into the house and begins to fuck with the people that live there.  I’m not enough of a film buff to know the background of this particular sub-genre, but there was a spate of them in the early 1990s, most famously Single White Female, Poison Ivy, and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.  That last one is the closest analog to “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, but they’re all pretty similar: a new woman moves in and begins destroying things.

Single White Ivy That Rocks the Cradle

Images yoinked from respective Wikipedia articles. 

Like I said, there were a lot of these.

As the basis of an episode of The Simpsons, you could do much worse.  Sure, such movies tend to be formulaic and bland (I once had to sit through Pacific Heights, a particularly wretched example with Michael Keaton as the interloper), but it’s a recognizable enough idea and you’ve already got the family in place.  The problem with “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge” is in the execution.  Instead of using the “other woman moves in” plot as a comedy where little or nothing is at stake, Zombie Simpsons plays it straight ahead, with lots of suspenseful string music and Marge going crazy in ways that are far more bizarre than entertaining.

That opens the episode up to all of the same problems that plague those kind of domestic thriller movies: wild and completely unbelievable plot twists, inexplicable but harmless incidents of danger, and characters who are repeatedly and unconscionably naive and stupid.  All of those happen in this episode, and while there is the occasional nod to the absurdity of the source material (“powerless to help you, not punish you”), for the most part they just stumble forward with Marge yelling and screaming and everyone else not believing her.

Marge Freakouts

The freakout ratio between these two episodes is like 10:1, minimum.

This is how we get scenes with cut brakes and a chase through a marching band and Marge generally acting like a nutbar.  (What was with her praying – out loud – in the middle of her commitment hearing?)  At the same time, her family just kind of watches all this happen (including Lisa, who would know better and who is basically set aside for most of this episode).  Worse, there’s nothing else going on.  The entire plot is Marge vs. Becky, which, since the conclusion is foregone and we’re watching an animated show, isn’t the least bit suspenseful.

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Oh, no.  How will Marge and the gang get out of this one?  I’m on the edge of my seat.

“Bart of Darkness” understood all that, so when it comes time for the scene where Lisa, a la Grace Kelly in Rear Window, goes to the Flanders’ house to investigate Bart’s suspicions, the scene is light on suspense and heavy on comedy.  Even when Flanders is walking up the steps, ostensibly to hack Lisa to death with an ax, the episode never takes things seriously in the least (the dog attached to Bart’s cast always gets me) and wraps itself up quickly.  The last scene (other than Martin’s humiliation, of course) is Homer quickly parodying those cliched reveal scenes from detective shows with his sarcastic sounding sincerity.

By contrast, even after all the crap Marge has been through by the end of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, the episode can’t end without one more drawn out scene with suspenseful string music.  And even then it doesn’t make sense (so Becky really was trying to steal her family?) because Becky herself is as empty and incomplete as a character can be.  Recall that the show offers zero background on her or why she’d move in with the Simpsons after Otto took off.  Does she not have a place of her own?  Doesn’t she have any friends or family?  Shouldn’t there have been at least one person – at her wedding – that she knew besides them?  The episode is completely silent on those rather glaring questions, so when it comes time to end, it pulls that classic Zombie Simpsons move of just throwing up its hands and rolling the credits.

“Bart of Darkness” is its own creation, one which uses Rear Window extensively, but which has so many other things going on (Krusty re-runs, Bart’s play, Lisa becoming popular, etcetera) that the movie it’s parodying is only a small part of a much larger whole.  On the other side of the ledger, you have “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, the script for which is so hacktacular that it could probably be turned into an actual mediocre suspense movie with just a little bit of padding and an extra character or two.


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